types of pool filters
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The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Pool Filters

Summer is just around the corner, and your kids are counting down the days until school’s out. Their plans for the next two blissfully carefree months?

They’ve told you in no uncertain terms that they plan to spend the summer eating popsicles and jumping in the pool. That is when they’re not busy eating pizza and playing video games!

Of course, when your kids are planning to invite the whole neighborhood over for a backyard pool party and BBQ, you need to make sure that everyone is going to have a safe and awesome time. This starts with a clean and bacteria-free swimming pool.

Read on to find out about the different types of pool filters, how to clean your pool filter and signs it’s time to get a new one.

Do I Really Need a Pool Filter?

Yes, you absolutely need to use a pool filter. In fact, in some states, you are required by law to use a filter in your swimming pool.

But the more important reason is that pool filters play a crucial role in keeping you and your family safe so that you can enjoy those sunny summer afternoons by the pool. A water filter helps to protect against waterborne illnesses and prevents parasites or bacteria from growing in the water.

Additionally, using a pool filter keeps the water in motion. This prevents creating a breeding ground for insects like mosquitoes that breed in stagnant water.

Finally, a pool filter keeps your pool in tip-top condition. Without one, you’ll soon start noticing damage to your pool’s inner workings.

How Does a Pool Filter Work?

The pool filter is part of the pool’s plumbing network which includes large drains at the bottom of the pool and smaller drains known as skimmer drains around the edges of the pool.

The large drains catch heavier dirt and debris that sinks down whereas the skimmer drains are for the lighter debris, like leaves, which float along the water’s surface.

As the pool water flows through these drains, the filter will clean the water. This freshly filtered water then flows back into the pool.

Considerations When Buying a Pool Filter

Before deciding what type of filter you are going to get, you need to determine the size of your pool so that you choose the correctly sized pool filter.

If you get a filter that is too small, it won’t be able to do an effective job of cleaning the pool. The result is that you’ll have to clean and replace a filter that’s too small more frequently. There’s also a chance that the smaller filter will get fried, leaving you at the risk of a damaged pump and filter.

On the other hand, you don’t want a filter that’s too large either! These can make the pool dangerous for swimmers from draining the water too quickly.

To determine the size of filter that you’ll need, you need to calculate the area and volume of your pool. Yep, turns out that grade school geometry class is actually coming in handy!

Additionally, you’ll need to determine the turnover rate of your pool. The turnover rate refers to the amount of time it takes all of the water in your pool to cycle through the filter. While some states have a mandatory 12-hour cycle law, it’s better for the health of your family to operate on an 8-hour turnover cycle.

Types of Pool Filters

There are three main types of pool filters for you to choose from. There are pros and cons to each of these options so the best pool filter will come down to what’s best for you and your family’s pool maintenance and usage habits.

Cartridge Pool Filters

Cartridge pool filters have become the most popular option for residential pools. They’re by far the most environmentally-friendly option. But they’re also economically priced and require only moderate maintenance.

Cartridge filter can filter out particles down to 5 microns. Cartridge filters use pleated polyester filters to clean the water and since the water is not backwashed, they waste less water as compared to other types of filters.

This style is the best pool filter for variable speed pumps and operates at a lower level of energy consumption than other cartridges. In terms of maintenance, you will need to periodically disassemble the cartridge filter and rinse the filters with a hose, but this is much easier and less technical than it sounds!

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filters

The Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is known throughout the pool industry for providing the cleanest water of the three options. It can filter particles as small as 3 microns. Of course, this level of cleanliness comes at a cost.

DE filters are the most expensive of the three options and require the most maintenance.

The way these filters work is that water goes through the filter and then is pushed through several grids that are coated with diatomaceous earth.

While this is an incredibly effective way to filter water, cleaning the filters is much more laborious than the other two options. With a DE filter, you need to reverse the water flow which backwashes the filter. Depending on the size of your pool, it may waste up to 500 gallons of water in the cleaning process.

DE filters are the necessary option for public pools. But they’re generally seen as too much hassle for residential ones.

Sand Pool Filters

While sand filters were once the most popular type of pool filter, they’ve fallen out of fashion in recent years due to being the least effective and requiring significant maintenance.

That said, they are the cheapest option and if you have one before, it will still work. Sand filters remove particles down to 25 microns.

The way sand filters work is that the water is passed through a pressurized tank. Starting from the top, the water is sprayed through the sand on its way through the tank.

This filter needs to be washed on a weekly basis using the same “backwash” method as the DE filter, which again means wasting upwards of 500 gallons of water. These filters only need to be replaced every 5-7 years, making them the longest lasting of the three options.

How to Maintain Your Pool Filters

Swimming pools are a lot of fun and a great place for kids (and the young-at-heart!) to hang out. But proper pool maintenance is crucial to keeping everyone safe this summer. Regardless of the type of pool filter you use, be sure to follow these maintenance procedures.

Cartridge Pool Filters

On a monthly basis, you need to need to be hosing down your filters and once every three months, you’ll want to soak your filters in a detergent solution. It’s a good idea to have a spare set of filters so that you don’t have to close the pool while you’re doing this.

Annually, you should replace your filter cartridges. We recommend doing that in the late spring or early summer so your pool is clean and ready for the season.

Sand Filters

Like we said, sand filters require the most maintenance. You need to do a weekly check on the pressure in your sand filter. If it gets too high, you need to backwash the filter.

At a minimum, they need to be cleaned monthly to prevent too much dirt from accumulating in the pump. Once a season (or every three months for you lucky people who use your pool year-round), you need to check the sand levels in the filter.

Depending on your level of usage, after about five years, you’ll need to replace the sand in the filter. However, if you notice sand in the pool, you should replace the sand in the filter immediately.

DE Filters

Similar to the sand filters, you need to monitor the pressure in the DE filter and clean the filter if the pressure is too high.

On a monthly basis, backwash the filters and replace any lost DE. Additionally, you’ll want to monitor the DE levels every other month. If you notice that the pool water is cloudy or that there are sediments in the pool, you should clean and check the filter.

Now You’re Ready to Choose the Best Pool Filter

We know this is a lot of information to process, but we’re confident that this guide to the different types of pool filters will help you make the best choice for your pool.

Looking for other types of filters for your home? Visit our website to get the filters for every home need from HVAC to refrigerator filters.

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